To the New Jersey Assembly Committees of Correspondence7
ALS (draft): American Philosophical Society
London, Feb. 14. 1775
In my last I informed you of my Attendance on the Board of Trade upon your Acts passed in March last, the Objections made to some of them, particularly the Paper Money Act with the Answers I gave to those Objections; and that all were likely to pass, except those for lowering the Interest of Money, and for the Relief of an insolvent Debtor.8
Petitions are come up to Parliament from all the Trading Ports, and manufacturing Towns, concern’d in the American Commerce, setting forth the Loss and Ruin they are likely to suffer by the Stop put to that Commerce, and praying that lenient Measures may be adopted for restoring it. The N. American and W India Merchants in London have also petitioned to the same Purpose: But little Notice has hitherto been taken of those Petitions, and both Houses have address’d the King, declaring a Rebellion to be in the Massachusetts Bay, in consequence whereof more Troops are about to be sent thither,9 and Administration seems determin’d on reducing the Colonies by Force to a solemn Acknowledgment of the Power claim’d by Parliament of mak[ing] Laws to bind the Colonies in all Cases whatsoever. A Bill is preparing to deprive the four New England Colonies of their Fishery,1 and other Severities are threatned. Yet many here are confident, that if the Non-Consumption of British Manufactures in America, is soberly and steadily adher’d to another Year, these Measures will all be revers’d, and our Rights acknowledg’d.
I inclose Lord Chatham’s propos’d Plan of Conciliation, which was hastily and harshly rejected by the Lords. [In the margin: Burk’s Speech.2 Newspapers.] The Friends of America generally wish it had been accepted; because tho’ some Exception might probably be made there to Parts of it, and certain Explanations or Modifications required or propos’d, yet it would have serv’d as the Basis of a Treaty for Agreement, and in the mean time have prevented Mischief and Bloodshed. With great Respect, I am, Gentlemen, Your most obedient humble Servant
7. See the note on BF’s letter to the committees above, Sept. 7.
8. BF must have described, in the missing letter to which he refers, the action of the Board of Trade on the thirty-three New Jersey acts. On Dec. 12 the Board considered them and Richard Jackson’s report on them; on the 15th it discussed with BF the three that he mentions, and on the 19th reported on them to the crown. Board of Trade Jour., 1768–75, pp. 403–5. On Feb. 20, 1775, the paper money act was allowed, and the act for lowering interest was disapproved. Acts Privy Coun., Col., V, 405–6.
9. In January, in response to letters from planters in the West Indies, three meetings were held in London of merchants trading with the islands; the upshot was a petition, which made essentially the same points as that of the North American merchants and met the same fate. Public Advertiser, Jan. 7, 20, 25, 26; Commons Jours., XXXV (1774–76), 91–2; Lords Jours., XXXIV (1774–76), 308. For the other petitions and the military measures see BF to Cushing above, Jan. 28, 1775, and for the address to the King the agents’ circular letter of Feb. 5, 1775.
1. On Feb. 10 North secured leave to bring in a bill that became the New England Restraining Act. It confined the trade of the New England colonists to the British Isles and West Indies, and prohibited their fishing anywhere off the American coast; these restrictions were to be lifted whenever a colony abandoned the nonintercourse agreement. The bill became law on March 30, 15 Geo. III, c. 10. Gipson, British Empire, XII, 294, 297–300.
2. Speech of Edmund Burke, Esq. on American Taxation, April 19, 1774 (London, 1775). The first edition was published on Jan. 10, 1775. See William B. Todd, A Bibliography of Edmund Burke (London, 1964), p. 81; Thomas W. Copeland et al., eds., The Correspondence of Edmund Burke (9 vols., Cambridge and Chicago, 1958–70), III, 93–4. For Chatham’s plan see above, pp. 459–60.